An affectionate but meticulously researched history of one of the most beautiful and best-loved corners of England – nestling deep within the mountains and valleys of the Lake District.
Bounded by the peaks of Scafell, Skiddaw and Helvellyn, and embracing such well-known landmarks as Borrowdale, Derwentwater and Keswick, the rugged landscape of Crosthwaite Parish excites passion in all those who know it.
The Parish also boasts a remarkable history. Its 90 square miles were governed, from medieval times, by 18 annually chosen 'customary tenants'. After the opening up of the Lake District in the late 18th century, Crosthwaite was at the centre of the landscape that intoxicated the Lake Poets, prompting Wordsworth's portrayal of its people as 'a perfect Republic of Shepherds and agriculturalists'. In the 19th century, the Victorian state killed off the old parish system, sweeping away the egalitarian rule of the 18 Men. But a degree of redemption was at hand. Canon Rawnsley, vicar of Crosthwaite from 1883, pledged to defend the Lake District for future generations. Crosthwaite Parish was at the heart of the creation of the National Trust and blazed a trail for a wider movement to preserve the English landscape.
Writing with a historian's rigour allied to a deep love of the Lake District, Philippa Harrison has produced a magisterial and fascinating record of a parish with a unique social, cultural and aesthetic resonance in English history.
Praise for Mountain Republic:
'Has there ever been a parish history so well-researched, so filled with history and literature, campaigns and causes, and so fascinating? No chance. This is a unique contribution to English history' Hunter Davies, author of Lakeland
'A delightful, refreshingly written book, attentive to social detail and telling the only story that matters – history' Simon Jenkins, Chairman of the National Trust 2008-2014
'The fascinating story of Crosthwaite's ancient parish ... Stimulating, wide-ranging and full of interest' Angus J L Winchester, Emeritus Professor of History, Lancaster University